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Schools Offering Interior Design Programs near Princeton AL

How to Pick the Right Interior Design Program

Now that you have decided to enroll in an interior designer college near Princeton AL, it's time to begin the process of choosing a school. Even if you have always had a talent for designing residential or commercial spaces, it's imperative that you get the appropriate training to put your talents to work. And since a number of states do mandate that interior designers become licensed, depending on your state of residence you could need training to pass a licensing exam also. So it's essential that you perform the appropriate research in order to evaluate and compare each program that you are considering before you make your final decision. But exactly where do you begin? Some prospective students will begin their research by searching for interior design programs near their residence and then comparing tuition costs. While cost and location are key factors when making a decision, they are by no means the only ones. Qualifiers such as reputation and accreditation must be considered as well. We will cover those topics and other vital questions that you should be asking the interior design schools you are looking at later in this article. But before we do, let's cover a little bit more about what interior design is and what degree and training alternatives are available.

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Interior Decoration compared to Interior Design

interior designed living room in Princeton AL

Some people mistake interior decoration for interior design. The principal difference between the two is the level of education required. Anyone can work as an interior decorator if they have a basic knowledge of or a skill for decorating interior spaces. However, working as an interior designer necessitates a formal education and in numerous states one must have an accredited Associate or Bachelor's Degree as well as be licensed. Interior designers are trained to make work or living spaces attractive as well as functional. On some projects they may collaborate with building engineers and architects. There are 2 general categories that an interior designer in Princeton AL may specialize in:

  • Residential Design. Interior Designers frequently work on existing homes as well as new construction. They can design essentially any room of the home, including bedrooms, closets and basements. Or they may specialize in designing one particular room, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Commercial Design. When working on commercial or public areas, designers normally focus primarily on either functionality or aesthetic appeal but take notice of both. For example, business reception areas and meeting rooms are spaces where aesthetics may be emphasized over function. Designs for banks and hospitals may focus more on functionality over appearance as the main consideration.

There are many areas of residential and commercial interior design that a designer needs to learn, such as color schemes, lighting, furniture and acoustics. Designers have to be able to use graphic design and read blue prints in order to produce their visions. From picking carpeting and wall paper to integrating Feng shui principles, Princeton Alabama interior designers employ a wide range of skills that help bring about their final designs.
 

Interior Design Training Programs

There are 4 degree options offered in interior design to acquire the training required to begin your new profession in Princeton AL. Your selection will no doubt be driven by your career goals as well as the time and money that you have budgeted to invest in your education. But no matter which degree program you choose to enroll in, be sure to select one that is accredited. Accreditation is required in order to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam required in some states. More will be covered on additional accreditation benefits later. Following are brief explanations of the interior design degrees that are available.

  • Associate Degree. Associate degrees in interior design supply the minimum level of training required to enter the field. They take roughly two years to complete and programs are available at a number of Alabama trade schools and junior colleges. Graduates can commonly obtain entry level employment as design assistants.
  • Bachelor's Degree. Bachelor's degrees are 4 year programs that supply more extensive training than the Associate Degree. They deal with the creative and technical aspects of the business needed to become a designer. They are the minimum credential needed by a graduating student in order to secure an entry level job as an interior designer.
  • Master's Degree. These 2 year programs supply advanced training in design after attaining a Bachelor's Degree. Master's Degrees offer options in specialized majors in general areas such as business offices or residential bathrooms. A number of students enroll to improve their skills to be more competitive in the job market.
  • Doctorate Degree. Doctoral degrees are mostly for those professionals who wish to teach interior design at a college or university level. The degree programs differ in length but are generally completed in three to five years.

To work as a professional and adopt the title of "Interior Designer", a number of states mandate that graduates of accredited degree programs become licensed. In several instances, two or more years of field experience may be called for before a candidate can take the licensing examination.

Online Interior Design Classes

Princeton AL student attending interior design school onlineFor individuals who wish to study in the convenience of their Princeton AL homes, there are online accredited interior design classes. Attending classes online can be a great option for those students that are employed or have busy schedules that make going to classes on campus problematic. Classes can instead be attended on a home computer or laptop when practical for the student. For a number of students online schools may be the sole option if no interior design schools are within driving distance. And as an additional benefit, the tuition may be cheaper than for more conventional options. Added expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be minimized or eliminated also. Just make certain that the college you pick is accredited by a respected accrediting agency, such as the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (more on accreditation later). Online colleges may also obtain accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance learning. If you have the discipline to acquire your degree without the confines of a physical classroom setting, then an online interior design program may be the ideal option for you.

Subjects to Ask Interior Design Programs

Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the school must be within driving distance from your Princeton AL home. Naturally if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualifier. The cost of tuition will decrease your options also. But selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other variables that you should look at also, including the accreditation and reputation of the college. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the programs you are considering to get those answers in addition to others to help you compare and subsequently select the right degree program.

Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to confirm that the interior designer school and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when securing financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Princeton Alabama employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level jobs.

Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of professional experience may be required also. So in addition to furnishing an outstanding education, the Princeton AL program you select should also furnish the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.

What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and obtained your interior design certification, you will undoubtedly need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job assistance program. If so, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It may also indicate that the school has a large network of Princeton AL business connections where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Princeton AL schools you are looking at and ask what kind of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their incoming students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing federal student loans or grants. It must be emphasized again that choosing an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a school that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they offer more generous financial aid.

How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive little individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Princeton AL programs you are reviewing what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Princeton home, go to the campus and monitor a couple of classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.

Are Classes Accessible that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make certain that the interior designer college you select offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Princeton AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.

Choose the Best Interior Designer College near Princeton Alabama

interior designed kitchen in Princeton AlabamaSelecting the ideal interior designer program is a crucial first step toward launching your career in this artistic and fulfilling occupation. Searching for a school where you will obtain your education and cultivate your talents in a particular area of study is a difficult task regardless of what major you have chosen. As with any endeavor to acquire an advanced education, there are a number of factors to think about before enrolling in a program, course or school. At a minimum, check that the program and design school are both accredited and highly esteemed in the profession. But it is still essential that you conduct your due diligence analysis. By doing so and following the balance of the suggestions presented in this article, you will be able to effectively evaluate and compare interior design programs so that you can make the ideal ultimate selection. And with quality training and your drive to succeed, you can accomplish your goal of becoming an interior designer in Princeton Alabama.